CREDC Hires New Vice President of Business Development


The Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) announced today that it has hired Clint Hendricks as its new Vice President of Business Development.

In this role, Hendricks will be responsible for working with CREDC staff, board of directors and strategic partners to execute the goals and objectives outlined in the Clark County Comprehensive Economic Development Plan, with a particular focus on leading efforts to Expand the Existing Business Base in the region across our five key industry sectors—software, computers and electronics, clean tech, metals and machinery and life sciences. Through this work, Hendricks will concentrate on increasing awareness of domestic and global business audiences on the opportunities Clark County offers for a wide range of companies to thrive and innovate.

With over 20 years of experience as a business leader in various business development and strategy roles for global companies, Hendricks joins the CREDC team most recently from a brief stint leading his own consultancy, CH2 Consulting. His prior experience includes tenure as Director of Strategy at Lululemon Athletica in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he successfully guided senior leadership in developing and executing strategic initiatives and growth platforms that drove over $1B in revenue over a four-year period. Prior to that, he spent 16 years at Nike, serving in multiple capacities, including management roles in global operations and new business teams, among others. Hendricks earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in Boston and completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

“CREDC, its Board and Partners have done outstanding work in supporting the strategic vision and growth of Clark County,” said Clint Hendricks. “I am excited to engage and collaborate with our over 150 public and private partners to build on this foundation of success in my role as Vice President of Business Development.”

“We are so excited to welcome someone of Clint’s caliber to the CREDC team,” said CREDC President Jennifer Baker. “His extensive private sector background equips Clint with an astute perspective on the business competitiveness and market strategies that are core to our work. Clint’s proven ability to realize tangible value for businesses across national and global markets make him a well-qualified candidate to lead our business recruitment efforts—and a tremendous addition to the team. I am confident Clint will further accelerate the strong momentum in our efforts to advance the economic vitality of Clark County through business growth and innovation.”

Hendricks replaces former Director of Business Development Elizabeth Scott, who left CREDC in March. He officially began his duties at CREDC on July 22, reporting directly to CREDC President Jennifer Baker. To learn more about the CREDC team visit


Since 1982, the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) has served as Clark County’s leading economic development organization, connecting companies to the resources they need to expand or locate in the region. As a private-public partnership, we leverage the expertise and collaboration of over 150 investors and strategic partners to advance the economic vitality of Clark County while maintaining our exceptional quality of life.

Media Contact:
Monica Santos-Pinacho, Director of Communications, CREDC
(360) 567-3181,

Grow Clark County: Diversity Drives Innovation

How local organizations are integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion practices into their workplace culture.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the business environment goes beyond achieving good optics, beyond team members representing varying gender, race, or ethnic backgrounds. Truly inclusive environments embrace team members who bring different life experiences and points of view, who hold different educational or socioeconomic backgrounds, political beliefs, or other attributes of distinction. As part of the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan adopted in 2018, our vision is for Clark County to be recognized as on the most inclusive, healthy, and amenity-rich communities in the county.

CREDC’s recent June Grow Clark County event hosted a panel of champions in our region who work to advance the adoption of DEI practices within their own organizations and the broader community. In doing so, these organizations are recognizing bottom line gains derived from an inspired employee base, enhanced teamwork efficiencies, and employee retention.  

The panel-moderated by Sean Moore of WorkSource included:


Panel participants shared about specific recruitment and talent retention tactics, and how our teams can perform more optimally as we strive to establish increasingly inclusive and diverse work environments.

If you missed attending the event in-person, the following are a few of the practices and additional key takeaways outlined by our Grow series panelists that are helping them advance their - DEI efforts.


Umpqua Bank created a reference guide for hiring managers detailing how to hire diverse talent and properly customize a job description that invites a more diverse pool of applicants.  

Banfield Pet Hospital is seeing success in creating spaces for a variety of groups focused on individuals with similar interests, including (Latinx, Pride, Next Gen and Women). They also created an inclusion and diversity road map and are adjusting their job descriptions to help focus recruitment, and placing more weight on an individual’s background and range of experiences.

LSW’s approach is to create a flexible work culture that enables employees to make work and family experiences both a priority. Flexibility in work schedules at LSW has proved vital in facilitating a workplace where 47% of LSW talent is female, which is higher than national trends in the architecture industry.

HispanicPros leverages their network of over 5,000 young college-educated people of color in the Portland-Vancouver metro area, they created their own job portal after seeing a need to market job opportunities that intentionally target and engage people of color, particularly Hispanic professionals.   

Additional key takeaways

  • Comfortability --If you wait until you’re comfortable to have a conversation about diversity, you may be too late.

  • Authenticity (to your organization and your mission) -- Don’t seek to implement a system for increasing diversity simply to check a box. Engage with your team members and listen to what practices align with your team values an capacity.

  • Creativity -- Team collaboration among employees with different backgrounds and mindsets spurs innovation.

  • Needs of the individual -- Increasing workplace diversity can naturally occur when we focus on creating an inclusive environment, where each team member feels valued and included.  

  • Leadership – As business leaders it is necessary to ‘walk the walk, not just talk the talk’.

  • Inclusivity – ‘Diversity is inviting someone to the party; and inclusion is asking that person to dance.’

  • Privilege Don’t be afraid of the privilege you may experience, seek to use it for good.

All in all, we heard loud and clear that some tangible considerations we can enact to drive progress in DEI efforts in our own organizations are to: Evaluate the culture. Educate leadership. Engage with employees.

We know that our GROW event just scratched the surface of topics branching from the diversity and inclusion dialogue, and to continue the conversation we ask you to think about what steps will each of us take in our vision to find Clark County recognized as one the most inclusive, healthy, and amenity-rich communities in the country?

A special thank you to our sponsors iQ Credit Union and CoLab Coworking, and to event attendees for their investment in this important topic.

The next GROW Clark County event is coming up in November. Register for our mailing list here or follow us on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn for more details as soon as they become available.  

Since 2015, GROW Clark County has served as a forum to showcase the broad range of businesses in the region, spotlighting the people driving innovation and empowering connections with entrepreneurs pushing the local economy forward. GROW Clark County aims to help build connections and open opportunities for the business community – from groundbreaking startups to thriving business looking to interact with other businesses and find resources that can help them achieve short and long-term business goals.


Thinking Global: How CREDC Leverages International Outreach

By Jennifer Baker, CREDC President

May is World Trade Month and the host month for Small Business Week activities around the country. Building alongside these international and emerging business themes, CREDC has taken an active role demonstrating solid representation so far in 2019, through our support for the Association of Washington Business trade mission to Japan and by marketing Clark County investment opportunities to international stakeholders at Hannover Messe in Germany, the world’s largest industrial trade fair.


We take on these types of international activities a handful of times a year, staying anchored in our strategic goal of growing the existing base of community-minded companies and with an openness to gaining exposure to innovation and partnership opportunities we can bring back to Clark County. The knowledge gained and observations vis-à-vis our local economic development efforts prompt a heightened level of critical thinking we can apply in our day-to-day and invite further exploration of how we can grow sustainably in a highly competitive and rapidly changing global business environment.

Our team closely consults Clark County-based local stakeholders in advance of each international outreach effort to facilitate fruitful engagements, then briefs CREDC investors, and convenes conversations with the broader community through activities like our fully subscribed Spring Luncheon: Think Global, where we discussed the importance of having a global mindset as a vehicle to grow our international footprint.

Photo by Nathan Howard,  The Columbian

Photo by Nathan Howard, The Columbian


Meanwhile, here in Clark County, we are excited to celebrate and support small businesses throughout what one of our local jurisdictions (Vancouver) has declared Small Business Month. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. CREDC—in close collaboration with over 150 public and private sector partners—is committed to continue leveraging international outreach efforts to foster an attractive business climate for businesses large and small, where we help accelerate innovation and support expansion efforts.

CREDC Bolsters Strategy Team: Hires Marnie Farness, Promotes Brittany Bagent

Marnie Farness, Relationships & Strategy Manager

Marnie Farness, Relationships & Strategy Manager

Brittany Bagent, VP of Strategy

Brittany Bagent, VP of Strategy

The Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) announced today that it has hired Marnie Farness as its new Relationships and Strategy Manager and promoted Brittany Bagent to Vice President of Strategy, effective May 6.

The Relationships and Strategy Manager is a new position for CREDC as the organization puts a stronger focus on Expanding the Existing Business Base in the region and economic development initiatives that support the execution of the Clark County Comprehensive Economic Development Plan. In this role, Farness will be responsible for establishing strong relationships with business and community leaders, building awareness that Clark County presents opportunity for a wide range of companies—from startups to established entities—to thrive.

With a proven track record working with community-minded organizations and broad knowledge of workforce development efforts in the region, Farness joins CREDC from WorkSource, where she most recently served as the regional business solutions manager for Southwest Washington. Her prior experience includes roles at Columbia Bank, City of Vancouver and Evergreen School District. Farness holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Warner Pacific College and is a 2017-2018 Leadership Clark County Alum. Farness officially begins her duties at CREDC on May 6.

"This is such an exciting time for economic development in Clark County,” said Farness. “I am extremely grateful to have been selected as the Relationships and Strategy Manager. I look forward to working with the CREDC team and community partners on current and future projects as we continue to execute the Clark County Comprehensive Economic Development Plan."

Additionally, Brittany Bagent, who joined the organization in 2016 as Director of Research and Economic Strategy, has been promoted to Vice President of Strategy. In her new role, Bagent will take on additional responsibilities that include leading an update to the 2016 Land Use Study commissioned by CREDC and coordinating the I-5 Bridge Replacement Task Force efforts in addition to her ongoing responsibilities overseeing the successful and timely execution of the five-year Economic Development Plan.

“We are thrilled to welcome Marnie to the CREDC team. Her expansive background in business outreach, relationship management and workforce development combined with her collaborative nature make her a tremendous addition to the team,” said CREDC President Jennifer Baker. “Over the past three years, Brittany has demonstrated her deep commitment to achieving the bold vision CREDC has set for the region, and I am confident in her new role she will help get us closer to achieving that vision. Marnie and Brittany round up a dynamic team, who will continue the strong momentum toward advancing the economic vitality of Clark County.”


Since 1982, the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) has served as Clark County’s leading economic development organization, connecting companies to the resources they need to expand or locate in the region. As a private-public partnership, we leverage the expertise and collaboration of over 150 investors and strategic partners to advance the economic vitality of Clark County while maintaining our exceptional quality of life.                           

Media Conact:
Monica Santos-Pinacho, Director of Communications, CREDC
(360) 567-3181,  


CREDC Joins Portland Business Alliance for Outreach Efforts in D.C.

By Brittany Bagent, Director of Strategy, CREDC

On behalf of the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC), I joined the Portland Business Alliance (PBA) in Washington D.C. to discuss priority issues with Southwest Washington’s and Oregon’s congressional delegation and members of the Trump Administration. CREDC participated in the trip to represent Southwest Washington’s interests and CREDC’s legislative priorities, including underlining the importance of advancing efforts to replace the Interstate 5 (I-5) bridge across the Columbia River.

Aligned with the Clark County Comprehensive Economic Development Plan, CREDC’s vision is for the county to be one of the most inclusive, healthy and amenity-rich communities in the country. To accomplish this vision, it’s critical that our transportation infrastructure accommodates immediate needs while setting the region up to support the rapid growth we continue to experience.

As we’ve said before, we are mobilizing our network of more than 150 business leaders and strategic partners—in Clark County and across the Columbia River—to support a bridge project that provides a long-term solution to the mobility needs of Clark County, the metropolitan region and the entire West Coast.

Key Takeaways from D.C.

We covered several challenges and opportunities facing Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, including infrastructure and transportation, free trade, affordable housing and homelessness. In addition to over a dozen formal meetings, the group prioritized time to engage with one another to identify opportunities for future collaboration. On behalf of our Clark County business community, I reaffirmed the critical need to replace the existing I-5 bridge, which connects Southwest Washington to Oregon and the rest of the West Coast. Participants, both those who were engaged with the prior project and those new to the region, reinforced the understanding that the time to replace the bridge is now. Overall, we saw that momentum for the project is moving quickly, with a staffer from Washington Representative Herrera Beutler’s office sharing that new constituents meet with him at least bi-weekly to discuss the bridge. At the federal level, Senator Cantwell, Senator Murray and Representative Herrera Beutler have signaled their support.

Back at home, we are energized by the leadership from Governor Jay Inslee and our Southwest Washington State delegation as they prioritize infrastructure investments to fund an I-5 bridge project office that will, among other things, help define a new project scope and re-establish vital partnerships that will lay the groundwork to ensure long-term success. Most recently, Governor Kate Brown voiced her support as well, stating that Oregon needs to accelerate plans to replace the bridge. Echoing what we shared and heard in D.C., we strongly believe the time is now to resume efforts to replace the I-5 bridge across the Columbia River and are confident we have the right people in place to identify a solution that will strengthen our economic advantage on a regional, national and global scale.                   

Outcomes and Next Steps

The strong momentum is evident in D.C. and was reinforced by the senators and representatives, who were encouraged that business communities collectively are using our voices to support and educate on this key issue. In a world where it is often much easier to argue against something rather than advocate for something, we must stand in alliance to support the good policy work being done to prioritize infrastructure and economic development investments.

Motivated by the delegation’s strong chemistry and momentum, we plan to work together with PBA to convene further conversations between our respective investors and member participants back in the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, last year CREDC formed the I-5 Bridge Replacement Task Force made up of business and public sector leaders across the county who are convening dialogue and coalescing the voice of the business community. The Task Force is co-chaired by CREDC Board Directors Steve Horenstein of Horenstein Law Group and Page Phillips Strickler of Strategies 360. Next, the Task Force will soon release a survey seeking feedback from CREDC investors and stakeholders about their priorities and values in our bi-state transportation infrastructure.

Our thanks to PBA for its partnership in reaching out to our region’s Members of Congress on the importance of advancing infrastructure solutions along the I-5 corridor as it traverses our bi-state region. We value the partnership and will continue to work together as critical initiatives move forward. CREDC will amplify the benefits of this annual trip to encourage additional Southwest Washington stakeholders to attend in 2020.


Grow Clark County: Human Factors in Workplace Design

CREDC’s first Grow Clark County event of the year featured a keynote presentation form Jeevan Peter (JP), Human Factors & Ergonomic Specialist for Herman Miller. The room was filled with unique seating provided by Workplace Resource of Oregon, including the Herman Miller “Spun Chair,” which some attendees were reluctant - and some excited - to take a spin in. JP engaged the crowd on how workplace design can improve employee productivity, wellness & engagement. One of the many key takeaways was the need to Sit. Stand. Move. Repeat. and The Importance of Moving as a Natural Part of the Workday. By the response in the crowd at some of the statistics surrounding sitting too often, we are sure many attendees are moving more frequently throughout their day.

Welcome to a Healthier Workplace
By Jeevan Peter

By shaping your workplace around people’s needs, you provide what they need to be healthy, productive, and engaged. That’s good for them, and your business. The Herman Miller Thrive Ergonomic Portfolio lets you choose the right mix of tools to support all the things people do—from the way they think to the way they move to the way they interact with your team. We spend a lot of time exploring the relationship between people’s experiences of the workplace and their fundamental human needs. In addition, we research the sociology of work—how people affect the work environment, and how the work environment affects people. We use this knowledge to help organizations and their design partners create workplaces where every element feels right.

Physical Needs

Is Work Taking a Toll on Your Body? The 80 percent of all office workers who have back pain during their careers say yes. We believe it’s because most work environments aren’t designed to fully support people’s bodies, tools, and tasks. Design considerations such as a high-performance work chair that engages the lower back and prevents fatigue; a sit-to-stand work surface that encourages healthy transitions between sitting and standing; and a monitor arm that allows a person to position their screen in a comfortable viewing position can help.

Cognitive Needs

What’s on Your Mind? Grocery lists. Vacations. Lunch. With everything people have going on, it’s easy to be distracted and emotionally drained. It’s even easier to feel this way in a meeting where the person sitting at the head of the table is blocking the main display. When people can’t see the information being presented on screen, they have difficulty concentrating. This can lead to anxiety, especially when the information being presented is critical to one’s job. A simple fix? Eliminate the chair from the head of the table, and eliminate the physical barrier inhibiting everyone’s ability to process information.

Social Needs

Are You a People Person? For most of us, the answer is yes—and no. Most of us seek to balance our need for privacy with our need to be with others. We also have different requirements for the amount of space between us and other people as we interact—requirements that can vary among cultures. The most effective office environments acknowledge that different types of work require different types of settings where people can work naturally, both together and alone.

Good for People, Good for Business, Too

When you give your body the support it needs to thrive, a funny thing happens. It can help your business thrive, too. Research shows that incorporating physical, social, and cognitive ergonomics and taking a proactive approach can make a measurable difference in what companies spend on healthcare and workers’ compensation each year.

Chairs that move like you move. Surfaces that conform to your shape. Design that fosters connection but also provides some separation. The elements in our portfolio reflect our understanding that to provide the best experience at work people need a space that support supports thinking, moving, and interacting—the cognitive, physical, and social needs we all share. We provide support for the whole person and so everyone can work in a way that feels natural to them.

Special thank you to our sponsors Workplace Resource of Oregon and iQ Credit Union.

Since 2015, Grow Clark County has served as a forum to showcase the broad range of businesses in the region, spotlighting the people driving innovation and empowering connections with entrepreneurs pushing the local economy forward. Grow Clark County aims to help build connections and open opportunities for the business community – from groundbreaking startups to thriving business looking to interact with other businesses and find resources that can help them achieve short and long-term business goals.

The next GROW Clark County event is coming up in June. Register for our mailing list here or follow us on facebooktwitter or LinkedIn for more details as soon as they become available.  

Request for Proposals: Your Journey Starts Here campaign



The Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) is the leading economic development organization for Clark County, working to advance the economic vitality of the region through business growth and innovation. CREDC’s mission is to develop a strong, innovative business environment across Clark County in collaboration with over 150 private and public sector partners.

The CREDC team is a dynamic group of collaborative economic development practitioners working together to accomplish a common vision:

Our vision is for Clark County to be recognized as one of the most inclusive, healthy and amenity-rich communities in the country. As a result, and with a continued focus on growing a diverse base of community -minded employers, talent (both inside and outside the region) sees greater opportunity here than anywhere else in the country.


In alignment with the Clark County Comprehensive Economic Development Plan, CREDC leads placemaking strategies that support and promote unique amenities that define the brand and character of the region. To that end, the Your Journey Starts Here (YJSH) campaign will market Clark County as a desirable place for young college educated (YCE) people to live, work and play – all while telling the broader story of place. The campaign began over a year ago with the unveil of the YJSH logo and promotional materials. Followed by the release of the YJSH video campaign series last Fall. We are now looking to take the next step, with a larger marketing campaign focused on enhancing our online presence.

The YJSH campaign will be composed of a website and social media plan, amongst other elements, that highlight interactive content centered around why Clark County is a compelling opportunity for talent and businesses alike.


CREDC is seeking a creative agency with experience in a variety of digital storytelling offerings, including but not limited to website design, imagery, social media and graphic design.


Deliverable 1 – Design and develop a website that is an active resource on quality of life information regarding living here, working here as well as the overall culture and experience you can receive from remaining or relocating to Clark County. This should include unique and interactive elements integrated into the website and social media amplification plan. Website content and site map provided by CREDC. CREDC will continue to host site after project completion.

Deliverable 2 - Create a social media plan to drive new engagement and raise awareness of the content and newly created website; and establishes tactics for long term engagement.

Deliverable 3 – Professional-quality shoot delivering high-resolution imagery to be used across print and online storytelling. Specific photo requests will be provided by CREDC, that will include a shot list of a wide range of communities, events, individuals and businesses that showcase the offerings in the region. A diverse inventory of a minimum of 50 photos will be expected.

Deliverable 4 – Additional highly interactive element ideas that could be incorporated in the YJSH website and throughout the social media plan that CREDC should consider implementing into the YJSH campaign. Include specific cost breakdown for development and execution.


Clark County Comprehensive Development Plan objective 2.3, 3.1 & 3.3


Submitted proposals must include a budget, including a breakdown per task and each team member’s billable rates not to exceed $20,000.


Samantha Codi Walker, Marketing & Events Manager Columbia River Economic Development Council

805 Broadway Street, Suite 412

Vancouver, WA 98660



All clarifying questions and inquiries must be submitted in writing via email to Samantha Codi Walker (


• Cover letter

• Qualifications

• Previous work examples

• Approach and timeline to meet deliverables

• Budget

• References

• Pitch presentation (when asked)

• Deadline and delivery: One electronic copy must be submitted to Samantha Codi Walker at no later than April 12th.

Shipbuilder Vigor picks Vancouver for Army landing craft manufacturing

Vigor, a Portland-based shipbuilder with footprints in Washington and Oregon, delivered a massive boost to Vancouver’s riverfront industry Friday, announcing it has chosen the city to build a new generation U.S. Army landing craft under a nearly $1 billion contract.

Work at the Vancouver site in the Columbia Business Park is expected to begin in May or June, with other Vigor marine building preceding the Army project. About 200 skilled laborers will be hired initially; up to 200 more could be working at the site when it is fully operational.

Vigor will invest millions in capital upgrades and equipment to the site, company officials said.

The Portland-based company announced in late 2017 it had won the Army contract, which, at $979,390,000 over 10 years, is the largest in Vigor’s history. A search for a building location then ensued.

The project calls for construction of the Army’s landing craft called Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) or MSV(L). Projects now underway at Vigor’s company in Ballard — Vigor Kvichak — will shift to Vancouver. The Ballard facility will close.

Portland, Seattle and other locations in Washington were considered for the Army project and other Kvichak-acquired work. Vancouver appears to have emerged as a candidate only in recent months, and city officials didn’t know the company’s intentions for certain until this week.

Frank Foti, Vigor CEO, in an interview with The Columbian, praised Vancouver’s travel brochure-worthy charms and a quality manufacturing site for choosing the city.

“The quality of life is excellent in Vancouver,” said Foti, who owns a home in the city. “There is a culture of openness and friendliness that really draws you. There is great access to both rural and suburban living, which appeals to a great number of our craftspeople.”

Vigor representatives approached Vancouver officials “recently,” said City Manager Eric Holmes, one of three officials in Clark County privy to talks with the company as it made its decision.

“This is really fantastic,” Holmes said. “Not only does it bring these kinds of manufacturing jobs to Vancouver, it does so under the umbrella of a 10-year government contract. We capitalized on our status as a riverfront community, and it reflects on the ship building heritage we have in Vancouver.”

Holmes and Vigor officials discounted the influence of financial incentives in the company’s decision.

The city manager said Vigor received the same incentives that would be offered to any prospective industrial recruit, such as a cap on building permit fees and expedited permit processing. Also, the city would assist Vigor in trying to obtain the necessary approvals to build a dock in the future, Holmes said.

A Vigor spokeswoman said the company would seek an unspecified amount from Washington’s Economic Development Strategic Reserve Account to assist with the expenses of moving work to Vancouver.

Vigor, which is privately held with a mix of 2,300 union and non-union workers, has employees in several locations, including an existing site in Vancouver, its Portland headquarters and a 60-acre shipyard on Swan Island.

The company has previously done business in Oregon as Vigor Industrial LLC and in Washington as Vigor Shipyards Inc.

Operating through its subsidiaries, Vigor builds and repairs ships and provides related vessel maintenance services including painting, blasting and coating. It also builds ocean and inland barges. Customers include cruise lines, ferry systems and oil companies.

Kvichak Marine Industries in Ballard laid the groundwork to acquire the huge Army contract in 2012, three years before it was acquired by Vigor, becoming Vigor Kvichak. On Friday, workers were informed their facility would close and its projects would move to Vancouver. The 70 workers affected at Kvichak — it’s named after a river in Alaska — were offered the opportunity to move to the Vancouver location.

Also Friday, about 60 of the 500 workers at Vigor’s factory in Clackamas, Ore., were told their aluminum fabrication jobs would move to Vancouver. They, too, were offered the opportunity to follow their job to Vancouver, Foti said.

The Vancouver site will begin construction of the Army landing craft prototype this summer. Once the prototype is completed and testing and refinements have occurred, another 36 vessels will be built.

In addition to the Army landing craft production, the site will also be used to continue Vigor’s ongoing production of the Combatant Craft Medium for the U.S. Navy as well as for U.S. allies, the Response Boat-Medium for the U.S. Coast Guard and export market, Vigor Fast Interceptor, aluminum fast ferries and commercial workboats.

Vigor representatives contacted Vancouver officials at the end of November after learning of a potential site in Columbia Business Park.

Foti said Vigor’s existing site in Vancouver, the former Oregon Iron Works nearby on the riverfront at the former World War II-era Kaiser Shipyards, did not meet the needs for the aluminum-fabrication projects.

The site at 4400 S.E. Columbia Way in the Columbia Business Park is the former home of Christensen Yachts. Vigor is in the process of purchasing the site and the transaction is expected to be completed this summer.

Foti noted the marine heritage of the Christensen building in Friday’s news release.

“We are honored to carry forward the vision begun by (company founder) Dave” Christensen, Foti says in the release. “When I think of his alignment with the Vigor values of Truth, Responsibility, Evolution and Love, it’s Responsibility and Love that shine through. He stayed responsible to what he built, and his Love for the people who built amazing boats here was proven by Dave’s actions many times over.

“There’s a sign in the entry that reads, ‘Through these doors walk the finest boat builders in the world.’  The craftspeople of Vigor intend to honor that vision as we walk through those same doors every day,” Foti said.

Christensen died Oct. 15, 2018, years after having any connection with his namesake company, which has been embroiled in a lawsuit between members of the Christensen family and the company’s current owner, Tennessee investor Henry Luken. The parties reached a settlement earlier this week, according to court records, although the details of the settlement were not available.

Luken said on Friday that the Christensen Yachts business will continue at a new shipyard location near Tellico Lake, Tenn. Plans for the Tennessee facility were first announced in 2006, but according to a 2011 Columbian story, the company was hit hard by the recession starting in 2008 and had to halt construction of the second location. It never opened, Luken said, but he now plans to finish the site and move the company’s equipment over from the Vancouver shipyard.

“The company’s not closing down — I’m going to a facility that’s four times larger,” he said. “We’re moving probably 100 trucks of stuff from the West Coast to Tennessee.”

Vigor adds to Vancouver’s maritime history

Best remembered for the Kaiser Shipyards, Vancouver’s Columbia riverfront has a long maritime history.

The World War II-era operation was one of the defining institutions in Vancouver’s history, spawning a huge population and housing boom. The yard was along the Columbia River, just downstream from Marine Park; the old slipways are visible from an observation tower near the park’s boat launch.

Kaiser produced baby flattops, tank landing craft and Liberty ships. At its peak in December 1944, it employed 38,000 and led to creation of the Vancouver Housing Authority and such developments as McLoughlin Heights, Fruit Valley and Fourth Plain Village.

The WWII deal between the U.S. Maritime Commission and the Kaiser Co., a heavy-construction firm controlled by Henry Kaiser and his son Edgar, was signed Jan. 9, 1942. The first ship, the S.S. George Vancouver, was launched on July 4, 1942. The last ship was outfitted in May 1946.

Vancouver had been the site of a World War I shipyard as well, called the Standifer Shipyard, at what is now the Port of Vancouver’s Terminal 1. That shipyard went out of business by 1921. Today the site is home to a restaurant, WareHouse ’23.

A company Vigor acquired, Oregon Iron Works, also took on marine projects in Vancouver. In 2002, Oregon Iron Works helped build an 85-foot Coast Guard craft under a $2.4 million subcontract.

New president takes reins at CREDC

New president takes reins at CREDC

The Columbia River Economic Development Council kicked off the new year by welcoming three members to its board of directors, along with the economic development organization’s new president, Jennifer Baker.

Baker most recently served as the deputy district director for the Portland office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and previously worked in multiple business and trade fields, including four years as an international trade specialist with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be handing the reins over to Jennifer,” said Max Ault, who served as interim president in 2018. “2018 was a really busy year for us, and that momentum continues into 2019.”

Baker began her tenure Jan. 14, and the new board members were officially voted in at the council’s annual investor event at the ilani casino on Wednesday. Alan Hwang of ACH Marketing, Andy Lowery of RealWear, Kara Fox-LaRose of ilani and Tim Price of Yaculta were elected to three-year terms on the board.

The council’s board officers are: chair (2018-2019): Casey Wyckoff, LSW Architects; vice chair (2018-2019): Lisa Lowe, Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt; immediate past chair (2018-2019): Greg Seifert, Biggs Insurance Services; treasurer (2019): Lisa Dow, Columbia Bank; secretary (2019): Helen Devery, BergerABAM.

The event included a recap of the council’s progress on the Clark County Comprehensive Economic Development Plan, a five-year strategic plan that the organization adopted in 2017, which focuses on three core goals: expand the existing business base, support people and create place.

In her closing remarks to CREDC investors, Baker said that 2019 would be a year of increased direct action, and she urged the members to reach out to her and share their stories, as well as reaching out to others in their networks and focus on asking the questions that will spur action.

Earlier in the day, The Columbian sat down for an interview with Baker at the council’s downtown Vancouver office to learn more about her plans for the CREDC. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Coming from the U.S. Small Business Administration, what was appealing about the CREDC and Clark County? What kind of opportunities did you see there?

I fully subscribe to the vision of the Clark County Comprehensive Economic Development Plan, and that vision is to recognize Clark County as the most inclusive, healthy an amenity-rich community in the U.S.

Those values and the commitment and investment that I see from community members is palpable in the meetings I attended when I was an SBA employee, and certainly now that I’m president of the CREDC. Being a part of a community that’s so invested allows us to do great things.

How much interaction did you have with the CREDC prior to seeking out this role?

The CREDC was part of a consortium of partners who were administering a Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant several years back, and so I worked with Elizabeth (Scott), who is now our business development director, on the implementation of that grant.

What appealed to you about this position, and how will your background contribute to your job performance?

I would say that I’m resourceful and diplomatic, and I feel like I have a knack for asking the right kinds of questions to help bring awareness and drive decision making. The experience of having worked with big businesses on international trade issues and businesses as small as a food cart — that expanse of experiences is what I’ll draw on to be particularly creative and resourceful as I liaise with the board and the investor community in realizing the next steps for the economic development plan.

One of the things in particular that fuels me is when I can drive by a warehouse or a business that was able to grow by virtue of the help that’s been infused by an organization — in this case, CREDC — and know that there are people employed by virtue of the efforts of the community. That’s very gratifying, to be able to see the results in our community and to know that employment opportunities are being created.

Do you see this transition as a continuation of your more recent work with small businesses, or more of a transition back towards the kind of trade and commerce work you did prior to the Small Business Administration, or both?

I hope it’ll be both. Well, I know it will be both. Depending on the industry, the SBA defines a small business as anything with 500 employees or fewer. So ‘small’ tends to still be pretty large in the lens of the SBA. I’m not anticipating a huge vacillation, and harkening back to my commerce days, I certainly worked with some very large corporations, helping them with trade policy.

Clark County is doing well economically, but like the rest of the Portland region, there have been struggles with housing affordability and struggles for businesses to attract skilled labor. What can the CREDC do to help address these issues, and what are some of the other issues facing the county that you want to be able to play a hand in tackling?

Stemming from the CREDC vision, we’ve outlined three business goals. (The first is to) expand the existing business space, and that entails building out traded sector. (The second is) supporting people, so making sure that the Clark County workforce is gaining skills and capacity to be a collaborative partner with industry, and/or attracting workforce from outside of Clark County to bolster workforce where there happen to be specific needs.

The third prong of the plan is creating place, and we keep an eye on the lands available for development and coordinate with our city and county partners on that inventory. But another part of creating place is the quality of life factor; being able to reach out and share that Clark county has amazing natural amenities.

Whether that’s kayaking up in Ridgefield or taking a hike on trails around La Center, or taking a stroll around the Vancouver Waterfront, or walking through Main Street in Camas, or the old historic district in Battle Ground, there are so many amazing amenities that we can share about the quality of life here, and I think that will continue to attract top talent.

Clark County has a growing technology sector. What is it going to take to keep it growing and make the county competitive in the tech field?

That relates directly to the second two goals of the strategic plan, which are support people — helping to build a workforce that is capable of meeting the needs of the tech industry as they look to move to town — and creating place.

Tech industry salaries tend to be higher-end salaries, averaging around $102,000 annually, and oftentimes employees in tech firms want to move somewhere where they can work hard and play hard, and here you have a fusion of both.

The diversity of towns that are relatively proximal means that you can have employees who live in different towns depending on whether or not they really subscribe to an urban experience or if they want to have a wooded lot somewhere.

As you said, there are different cities here that are very diverse and the county overall has a lot of variation to it — so how do you balance the competing business interests? How do you find solutions that are going to fit with everybody in Clark County?

I think that really correlates back to the cities and their uniqueness. Each city has something distinct to offer that makes Clark County desirable and accessible and inviting. So I think in some ways it’s up to those who are exploring Clark County to see what really fits with their life philosophy, because I think we really offer a little bit of it all.

The CREDC has been very public about wanting to move forward on replacing the Interstate 5 Bridge. What role do you see the CREDC playing in trying to pick those discussions back up, and how can we avoid another stalemate?

CREDC has set up an I-5 corridor task force and we’re inviting city representatives, Port (of Vancouver) representatives and regional transportation representatives to the table. (A new bridge) really will help connect Clark County to the rest of the West Coast more fluidly, and Clark County internationally. We’re pleased that Gov. Jay Inslee proposed a $17.5 million budget line item for an I-5 project office.

Coalescing the voices of the business industry and emphasizing the importance of transportation infrastructure to traded sector will help inform the dialogs to come. I think we have a huge commitment on behalf of interested parties to help share our story and help share the benefits of an optimized I-5 project.

Are there any other large-scale projects that the business community or the CREDC see Clark County as needing right now?

Investment in people is one of the key investments. I know I’m transitioning from infrastructure to workforce, but one of the common themes we hear from business owners in Clark County is that they’re really having to be effortful to find the right workforce contributors to grow their businesses, so I think continued investment in skilled labor and STEM — those will all be important ingredients to building out the most competitive economy.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about the job, or to introduce yourself to residents and business owners in Clark County?

The community has been very welcoming so far, and I’m so excited to be out and about and hearing people’s stories; their experiences building a business or resourcing business components or trying to explore new markets and troubleshoot parts of the supply chain. I think hearing those stories and being able to translate them into opportunity for other businesses and for businesses outside of the community will be really valuable.

CREDC Announces 2019 Officers and New Board Members

VANCOUVER, Wash. (January 24, 2019) – Yesterday, at its annual investor meeting, the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) elected their new members to serve on the 2019 Board of Directors. At a special Board meeting immediately following, the new Board moved to elect its 2019 officers and private sector Executive Committee members.

“I look forward to continue working with the CREDC Board. The new directors elected today round up an amazing group of leaders who are committed to the betterment of our community,” said Casey Wyckoff, principal of LSW Architects and board chair of CREDC. “We are eager to continue advancing the work of CREDC, helping develop a strong and innovative Clark County.”

CREDC’s Board of Directors for 2019 are:

-Chair (2018-2019): Casey Wyckoff, LSW Architects
-Vice Chair (2018-2019): Lisa Lowe, Schwabe , Williamson & Wyatt
-Immediate Past Chair (2019-2019): Greg Seifert, Bigss Insurance Services
-Treasurer (2019): Lisa Dow, Columbia Bank
-Secretary (2019): Helen Devery, BergerABAM

The following individuals were elected to serve a three-year term on the CREDC Board of Directors:

1 . Alan Hwang, ACH Marketing
2. Andy Lowery, RealWear
3. Kara Fox-LaRose, ilani
4. Tim Price, Yaculta

The following Directors Emeritus were elected to serve an additional one-year term:

1 . Brian Wolfe, Brian H. Wolfe, P.C.
2. Bryce Helgerson, Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center
3. Matt Krueger, PacTrust
4. Steve Horenstein, Horenstein Law Group

The following private sector members were elected to serve on the 2019 Executive Committee:

1 . Alan Garcia, NW Natural
2. Ben Bagherpour, SEH America
3. Bill Dudley, Landerholm, P.S.
4. Kevin Tapani, Tapani Inc.
5. Matt Krueger, PacTrust
6. Mei Wu, SmartRG
7. Michelle Erickson, Umpqua Bank

“I am energized by the strong group of community-minded individuals helping shape the direction of the organization,” said Jennifer Baker, president of CREDC. “I look forward to working closely with the current and newly elected board members to continue advancing the economic vitality of Clark County.”

The full list of the 2019 CREDC Board of Directors can be found HERE.


Since 1982, the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) has served as Clark County’s leading economic development organization, connecting companies to the resources they need to expand or locate in the region. As a private-public partnership, we leverage the expertise and collaboration of over 150 investors and strategic partners to advance the economic vitality of Clark County while maintaining our exceptional quality of life.  

Monica Santos-Pinacho, Director of Communications, CREDC
(360) 567-3181,  

Jennifer Baker Named New President of CREDC


VANCOUVER, Wash. (January 7, 2019) – The Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) announced today that its Board of Directors has named Jennifer Baker as president of the organization. In this role, Baker will be responsible for the development and execution of CREDC’s strategic direction, including overseeing administration, staff, funding, budget, and programs and initiatives, in addition to managing business support and recruitment activities. 

With a robust background leading economic development initiatives both in the U.S. and abroad, Baker joins CREDC most recently from the U.S. Small Business Administration, where she served as deputy director for Oregon and Southwest Washington. Previously, Baker held consultancy roles in Ethiopia and Vanuatu, where she helped lay the groundwork for economic policymaking and trade negotiations. She also spent four years with the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington D.C. where her accomplishments included leading the Commerce delegation’s involvement in U.S.-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement negotiations. 

“We are thrilled to have someone of Jennifer’s caliber lead the organization,” said Casey Wyckoff, board chair of CREDC. “Jennifer brings a wealth of experience that will propel the team to new heights. I am confident Jennifer’s leadership will continue the strong momentum toward accomplishing the goals of our Economic Development Plan as we embark on year two of execution.”

Baker has been recognized for her outstanding performance with the Small Business Administration, where she also served as an advisory board member for the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs and the Women’s Business Center at Mercy Corps Northwest. In 2017, she was peer-nominated to chair the Oregon Federal Executive Board of Directors and honored by the Office of Personnel Management for excellence in leadership. Baker holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Modern Languages from Pacific University and a Master of Arts in International Policy Studies from Monterey Institute of International Studies. 

“I am thrilled that I was selected to lead the CREDC team. I’m eager to engage with the staff and board members as we position our communities to manage current economic opportunities and future challenges optimally.” said Jennifer Baker, president of CREDC. “A considerable amount of effort went into creating the Clark County Comprehensive Economic Development Plan, and there will be much work to do as we continue building out this vision into actionable channels. I pledge to represent CREDC with the high-level of professionalism and polish for which it is reputed, and I look forward to facilitating the strong collaboration and partnerships that help make Clark County an unparalleled place to live, work and play.”

Baker succeeds Max Ault, who has served as interim president since May 2018. She will begin her duties as President of CREDC on January 14, reporting directly to the organization’s Board of Directors. 


Since 1982, the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) has served as Clark County’s leading economic development organization, connecting companies to the resources they need to expand or locate in the region. As a private-public partnership, we leverage the expertise and collaboration of over 150 investors and strategic partners to advance the economic vitality of Clark County while maintaining our exceptional quality of life.  


Monica Santos-Pinacho, Director of Communications, CREDC
(360) 567-3181, 

Gov. Inslee’s Interstate 5 Bridge Investment Will Support Continued Growth in Clark County, CREDC Establishes I-5 Bridge Replacement Task Force

VANCOUVER, Wash. (December 13, 2018) – Today, Governor Jay Inslee released details of his 2019-2021 budget proposal, which includes $17.5 million in funding to establish an I-5 bridge project office tasked with helping define a new project scope, evaluate the previous Record of Decision and re-establish vital partnerships that will lay the groundwork to ensure long-term success.

With a growing population and a rising number of businesses seeking to expand and locate in Southwest Washington, the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) is mobilizing its network of more than 200 business leaders and strategic partners to support a bridge project that provides a long-term solution to the mobility needs of Clark County, the metropolitan region and the entire West Coast.

To this end, CREDC recently formed the I-5 Bridge Replacement Task Force made up of business and public sector leaders across the County who will contribute the voice of the business community as this critical work moves forward. Aligned with the Clark County Comprehensive Economic Development Plan, CREDC’s vision for the County is to be one of the most inclusive, healthy, and amenity-rich communities in the country. To accomplish this vision, it is critical that our transportation infrastructure accommodate our immediate needs and set us up for success as we continue on a rapidly growing trajectory.

“This move makes it clear that Governor Inslee sees the importance of advancing infrastructure solutions along the Interstate 5 corridor through Clark County.” said Max Ault, interim president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC). “This investment is a critical step to continue growing Washington’s economy and strengthen Clark County’s competitive advantage at a national and global scale.”   

“We thank Governor Inslee for his leadership on this critical infrastructure project, and stand ready to assist him, his staff and the Washington Legislature.” said Steve Horenstein and Page Phillips Strickler, co-chairs of the CREDC I-5 Bridge Replacement Task Force. “As this project moves forward, we look forward to be a resource as representatives of the business community.”

“Thank you to Governor Inslee for his support and leadership in moving this nationally significant infrastructure project forward,” said Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle. “Replacement of the Interstate 5 bridge will support long-term economic development in the region and address the congestion and safety problems that increasingly impact our community and the region overall. Opening the I-5 bridge project office is a significant step forward in advancing this critical project.”

"Governor Inslee displayed great leadership today. Showing a willingness to re-engage in this project sends a loud and clear message that it is an economic life-line, not only between Oregon and Washington, but also to the region and the country.” said Tim Schauer, president of MacKay & Sposito. “Our future, both from an economic lens and a livability lens, depends on a new multi-modal bridge connecting the states.”

“It is critically important for us to focus on all the current transportation challenges, this includes both the river crossing challenge and the overall flow of traffic on both sides of the river. It is affecting local businesses in many ways.” said Kevin Tapani, vice president and chief financial officer of Tapani Inc. “I believe if all parties work together for the good of the whole, the challenges can be overcome, and we can move forward to strengthen our communities.”

About Columbia River Economic Development Council

Serving Clark County since 1982, CREDC is a private-public partnership of over 150 investors and partners working together to advance the economic vitality of Clark County, Washington. Through collaborative leadership, CREDC promotes job creation and capital investment while maintaining the County’s exceptionally high quality of life.  


Monica Santos-Pinacho, Director of Communications, CREDC
(360) 567-3181,  

Request for Proposals: Employment Land Study Update

Proposals due: December 7, 2018

The Columbia River Economic Development Council (“CREDC”) is seeking responses to this Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for the purpose of evaluating and selecting a consultant or team of consultants to provide an update to its 2016 Employment Land Study of Clark County, Washington (the “Land Study”). Responses to this RFP will be evaluated by a selection committee who will independently score each proposal based on the criteria set forth in this solicitation. Finalists with the highest aggregate score will be considered for interviews. Following interviews, the CREDC anticipates the selection committee will invite a finalist to enter into an agreement with CREDC to update the Land Study consistent with the requirements set forth in this RFP. Composite teams of individuals and/or firms may be formed to bring together the various disciplines necessary to provide the services described in this RFP. Having access to consultants with flexibility and various skill sets provides significant advantages and benefits. Firms of all sizes, depth, and capabilities are encouraged to submit proposals.

A. Background

CREDC is often the first point of contact for traded sector businesses looking to locate or expand in Clark County, Washington. The industrial/office/business park market segment is distinct from the commercial and residential markets. Not only is the price of land per square foot lower than for other segments, but these kind of businesses often have specific needs (e.g., access to rail, utilities, or freeway) and requirements that generally are not transferable from one site to another. While lands may be classified as “available,” environmental conditions, regulations, or infrastructure constraints may reduce the effective size, availability, or affordability of those lands for development.

In 2016, CREDC conducted an employment land study that identified employment sites and their varying state of readiness, which is an important baseline to inform policymakers and service providers as they respond to challenges replenishing the inventory of sites that support significant high-impact job density. The study, guided by a project advisory group and a consultant team, framed consensus on key definitions and industry-specific profiles. The study identified a total of 56 employment sites arranged in three tiers based on the estimated time needed to make each site development ready. The project also prepared a detailed development analysis that determined market opportunities and the economic impact for five sites from the inventory.

B. Specific requirements

The purpose of the project is to update and enhance CREDC’s existing employment land inventory work by building on terminology and consensus developed for the 2016 study (available at Specifically, the CREDC is looking to:

• Update inventory of employment sites: determine site-specific changes to development readiness, sites that should be removed from the inventory due to absorption or zone changes, and identify any new sites that should be added to the inventory within the tier structure.

• Quantify the total supply and readiness of large industry, business park, and office-industrial (excluding commercial) sites in Clark County, Washington.

• Analyze development of identified sites and update their tier rating (e.g., determine Tier III sites that have been developed, and former Tier I sites that have increased development readiness).

Report on jurisdictions’ initiatives to advance sites (e.g., capital improvement plans, policy development, etc.) by conducting stakeholder interviews and/or communicating directly with city and county planning and/or public works departments.

• Prepare recommendations that detail how sites could be made more attractive with further design, infrastructure investments, or regulatory amendments, as well as how public policy could inform investments to strategically plan and execute in order to yield best and earliest results, increasing the supply of development-ready sites.

• Identify strategies for aggregating sites with multiple owners.

• Consider sites otherwise development-ready or near development-ready yet located just outside of the Urban Growth Boundary, providing jurisdictions with strategic direction for UGB expansions.

• Pinpoint recommendations for highest and best uses for the Chelatchie Railroad.

• Provide a final report to inform the discussion on future tools and policies to maintain market-ready inventory of employment sites and provide information that can assist in future infrastructure planning, prioritization, and policy/regulatory rulemaking decisions.

• OPTIONAL (provide estimated fees per item)

o Deep dive analysis on select sites, including high and low intensity uses (2 layouts per site), infrastructure analysis, and economic benefit

analysis for each. Provide cost estimate per site.

o Utility gap analysis to determine infrastructure deficiencies surrounding employment sites throughout Clark County, Washington.

Funding for this project is expected come from multiple regional partners and the budget will depend on final scope of work and deliverables. Digital delivery of the final report is required and CREDC reserves the sole ownership rights of the deliverables.

C. Proposal Submission Requirements

Please prepare a proposal no longer than ten (10) pages that includes the following:

1. Executive Summary;

2. Proposed approach and timeline for delivering the services;

3. Experience and brief bio for proposed team members;

4. Experience working with regional companies or organizations to provide similar services requested in this document (include organization, name, title, phone, and email); and

5. Total cost including number of hours and hourly rate.

D. Selection Process

CREDC will evaluate and rank the overall strength of each proposal based on the following criteria and 100-point scale: (see PDF)

The CREDC reserves the right to:

• Require additional technical and pricing information

• Confer with respondents regarding all elements that comprise the respondent’s proposal

• Accept all, part, or none of any response

• Re-solicit for additional responses

A response may not be withdrawn or canceled for a period of 90 days following the submission deadline.

Respondents are expected to examine the instructions, specifications, terms, and conditions prior to submitting their response. Failure to do so will be at the respondent’s risk.

At CREDC’s request, respondents may be selected for in-person presentations.

All responses and related materials become property of CREDC.

CREDC reserves the right to reject any or all responses received.

E. Submission deadline and instructions

Proposals must be submitted electronically to Brittany Bagent at no later than COB on December 7, 2018. If you have any questions, please contact Brittany at the email above no later than November 30, 2018.

Preparing youth with skills and options is crucial for business

Max Ault, Interim President and Kevin Perkey, CEO, Workforce Southwest Washington

Educating and training our young adults – the workforce of the future – is vital to our regional economy.

In 2017-2019, Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW) will invest more than $3.75 million in youth workforce education programs, including degree completion, career exploration, work-based learning and subsidized employment.

Programs funded through WSW help young adults attain educational goals, prepare for college or post-secondary training and entry into the workforce. These programs help to increase their competitiveness for in-demand careers while at the same time providing businesses with qualified, local employees.

In 2017, the CREDC Board of Directors voted to adopt Clark County’s Comprehensive Economic Development Plan, which identified three key goals – Expand the Existing Business Base, Support People and Create Place – to be implemented over the next five years. The plan also established a 20-year vision for Clark County: to be recognized as one of the most inclusive, healthy and amenity-rich communities in the country. Our goal is that with a continued focus on growing a diverse base of community-minded employers, talent (both inside and outside of the region) see greater opportunity in Clark County than anywhere else in the country.

Our community’s people are a foundational component of CREDC’s vision for the future of Clark County, it is why Support People was identified as one of the three key pillars in the strategy to accelerate economic growth in the region, which was developed by CREDC in collaboration with WSW and other regional workforce and education partners. To stay at the forefront of growth and innovation, it is vital that we prepare young people of Clark County with the right set of skills and career exploration opportunities necessary to enter the workforce.

Clark County has a rich history and continues to be a statewide leader in aligning education initiatives to current and future workforce needs of our area employers. With foundational leadership rooted in our K-20 system, CREDC and WSW have been collaborating with the regional education system for many years to ensure our future generations receive the education and training necessary to prepare them for a globally-competitive employment environment.

Highlighting this partnership and co-investment by both the public and private sectors is the Southwest Washington STEM Network, which has been integral in the development of countywide education programming and curriculum that exposes youth across our K-12 system to contemporary work environments, technologies and industry standards. Leading Career-Connected Learning and Career Pathways initiatives, the STEM Network connects educators and employers to educate and prepare students for jobs that will put them at the forefront as they graduate and either enter the workforce, continue on to a two- or four-year degree or go into a career and technical education pathway.

For young adults who are disconnected from the K-12 system and want to transition to work or further education, WSW’s new youth career center, NEXT, is a critical piece of our local strategy. At NEXT, which opened in August, young adults ages 16 to 24 can receive the support and training they need to reach their educational goals, learn about career pathways and explore employment opportunities. These youth in transition from traditional education to either the workforce or further education or training represent some of the greatest opportunities and challenges for growing and strengthening our local workforce. Not all youth are prepared to make this transition; those who struggle are a focus and priority for workforce development efforts.

The focus on education pathways could not be accomplished without strong and deeply-rooted partnerships between economic development and workforce development. With a diverse range of programs, WSW is a critical component of competitive and impactful economic development efforts. From launching the county’s first-ever centralized youth career center, NEXT, to supporting youth programming focused on summer employment to foundational programs supporting career exploration, work experience, career exposure, internships and career exploration – including Manufacturing Day, the annual Youth Employment Summit and Vancouver Tech Tours – WSW’s investments in programs that focus on supporting people is key to ensuring the success of CREDC’s Comprehensive Economic Development Plan.

We all play a role in developing a robust and competitive workforce to support the economic growth of our region. We encourage entrepreneurs and business professionals to get engaged and be part of the county-wide efforts to connect youth – from K-12 to higher ed – with career awareness and hands-on learning experiences as they explore the possibilities for their future. You play a pivotal role in developing a talented workforce. Get connected and help young people sharpen the skills they are gaining in the classroom with on-the-job experiences.

WEDA Summer Conference: Create the Spaces You Would Want to Visit

Brittany Bagent, Director of Strategy

The Washington Economic Development Association (WEDA) convened its annual summer conference in beautiful Prosser, Washington, back in August. WEDA aims to be the voice of economic development throughout Washington State, which was evident by the packed house representing Associate Development Organizations like the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC), staff from many cities and ports, private sector consultants and state officials.   

While the world of economic development is competitive in nature, the overall tone of the conference was positive and collaborative, with a resounding message that we all share one common belief – we’re stronger together. For example, we heard about how Yakima’s “brain gain” initiatives – which help retain and recruit competitive talent in the region – benefit the Port of Benton’s Vintner’s Village by driving more visitors to the area, and how FIRST Washington’s rural STEM programs feed directly into ensuring that Seattle’s workforce pipeline remains competitive.

We value this annual opportunity to learn from each other’s successes and ask thoughtful questions that help our communities grow and succeed.

Rebecca Kennedy, Long Range Planner, City of Vancouver, and I had the opportunity to present on creative placemaking. We were proud to share the work and initiatives that make Clark County a leader in the state providing a wide range of options for its residents and employees to be involved in placemaking efforts.


Creating quality places is one of the three strategic goals in the Clark County Comprehensive Economic Development Plan. Why are economic development practitioners throwing their weight behind placemaking efforts?  Because companies need talent and talent want to live and work in unique places. By supporting our public sector partners and prioritizing the effort of Creating Place responding to our community needs, we’re setting ourselves up for success in recruiting quality companies and talent to the region.

There are a number of active placemaking initiatives throughout Clark County, including: envisioning a new identity for Battle Ground via their “Navigators” project, enlivening spaces with community murals in Vancouver, creating multi-modal transportation options and programming unique events (Couve Cycle, anyone?).  Additionally, City of Vancouver staff have several high-impact, low-cost programs in their toolbox, including a pre-lease program where city staff from all permitting departments help businesses determine exactly what they need for tenant improvements, an adaptive reuse program that supports redevelopment and tenanting with a deep understanding of generating long term value and food truck assistance that activates empty parking lots and provides highly desirable amenities for employees around town.

A key takeaway from the conference is seeing how the strategies we’re implementing in Clark County can be emulated in communities across the state, which resonated with the WEDA attendees. “What should we focus on first?” one participant asked. Our answer? Create the space you’d want to visit, then we’ll visit too.

If you’d like to hear more about the important role quality of place plays in differentiating our region and why Creating Place is a strategic priority for CREDC, join us at our Fall Luncheon on October 16 from 11AM – 1PM at Warehouse 23. Register here.